Par panel to consider suggestions on Torture Bill

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 19:39

New Delhi: The differences over definition
of `torture` and the provision of monetary compensation for
victims are some of the issues that a Parliamentary panel will
seek to hammer out before finalising its report on the
Prevention of Torture Bill ahead of the Winter Session.

The bill, which seeks to provide punishment for torture
inflicted by public servants, was passed by the Lok Sabha in
May this year. But following differences between members of
the Rajya Sabha over wordings of the bill, it was referred to
a select committee of the Upper House.

"The committee could consider suggestions to incorporate
provisions for monetary compensation of the victims of torture
payable by torturers," committee chairman and Congress Rajya
Sabha MP Ashwani Kumar told reporters here today.

He said among other provisions, the definition of
`torture` in the proposed bill would be on the agenda of the
committee expected to submit its recommendations to the Rajya
Sabha by the first week of November.

There was a general feeling among members that the
definition of `torture` is not clear in the present laws.

To a question on whether the proposed pan India law will
be applicable to areas under the Armed Forces Special Powers
Act, he said there was "no confrontation" between the two.

"No special or general law in the country is beyond
constitution...and no law allows torture as a means to extract
information," he said.

He said if an army personnel is accused of torture, he is
tried under the Army Act..."and if a civilian public servant
as defined in the law is accused of torture in an area where
AFSPA is enforced, he can be tried under this stand alone law
once it is passed by Parliament."

Kumar said the bill will also seek to ensure that the
power of sanctioning prosecution under the proposed law lies
with a senior officer to ensure transparency.

"A time-frame is also proposed to be set to ensure that
sanctioning of prosecution is not delayed. The sanctioning
authority will have to give in writing reasons for denying or
approving the sanction," he said.

The proposed stand alone law will help India ratify a UN
Convention on prevention of torture which it had signed in
1997.

Due to lack of an enabling domestic legislation, India
has so far not been able to ratify the convention.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 19:39

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